AlexEdler USAToday


Two weeks ago it looked like we were starting the season off with a bang, until the later action got underway and things spiralled out of control fairly quickly. 1-5 against the line, 3-3 straight up, YIKES! You might as well just call me the Washington Capitals. Thanks to Anthony for calling my first three picks victories, he must have been into the sauce earlier than me!

 

My dog Thunder on the other hand picked the first FIVE games correctly, we’re clearly going to need to have a little pep talk to ensure she doesn’t show us up like that again this week. There are lots of great matchups on the tube again for Hockey Day in Canada. That’s the nice thing about the shortened season, it seems like there’s a game on one of the major networks every day.

 

Perhaps they should just play a condensed 60 game schedule every year? Hah! Yeah right, well let’s get on to the games.


Lightning @ Bruins

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Despite being the highest scoring team in the league, it appears as though the Lightning are regressing to the mean, tallying only five goals in their last three games (all losses). They head into Boston Saturday afternoon with only one road win on the season. The Bruins on the other hand have managed to compile a 7-1-1 record to start the year despite having the worst power play in the league at 8.8%. Thankfully their penalty kill at 92.3% (2nd in the NHL), and faceoff wins at almost 60% (1st in the NHL) have made up for their shortcomings with the extra man. I guess it’s always good to start the play with the puck on your stick. The B’s are the only team in the league over .500 when trailing after 40 minutes of play (2-0-1).

 

Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Penguins @ Devils

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

It’s early, but the Pens and Devils have built themselves a small cushion atop the Atlantic division to start the season. The Pens have won six out of seven on the road, while the Devils have yet to lose at home in regulation. The Pens have the third highest power play in the league and with the Devils taking the 2nd most bench minors in the league; it could give them an extra chance to get an edge against Marty Brodeur. After putting up goose eggs in five straight games Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to grace the score sheet with his presence tallying a goal and an assist in Thursday night’s game. Who would have thought looking at the Devils stats ten games into the year that David Clarkson would be leading the team in goals and points? The Devils are riding a three game win streak after the Pens rolled them 5-1 last Saturday. This will be much tighter contest, and keep an eye out for the goalie matchup as these two complete their home and home series Sunday night.

 

Pick: T (Devils shootout win)

Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Jets @ Senators

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Despite Erik Karlsson throwing 11 shots on goal, and the Senators 47 as a team, they come into this Saturday matinee having lost a heartbreaker to the Canes Thursday night. Craig Anderson has been superb, allowing three or more goals in only two games this season, unfortunately those have been his last two outings. The Sens special teams have been sensational (see what I did there?) to start the season ranking 7th on the power play and 3rd on the penalty kill. Scoring first continues to be a bad omen for the Jets as they remain one of three teams in the NHL to collect zero points when tallying the first goal of the game. Their league worst penalty kill unit killing off a horrendous 62.3% makes you wonder how they’ve managed a 4-5-1 start.

 

Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Oilers @ Red Wings

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

The Red Wings join the Bruins, Coyotes, and Blues as the only teams in the NHL who are pointless when outshot by their opposition. Not an encouraging sign and neither is their 2.90 goals against average, which really shows the effect of Lidstrom’s retirement. His departure also percolates to the penalty kill unit ranked 2nd last in the league at 69.6%, down from almost 82% last season. Despite all the hype in Edmonton the team is only scoring 2.3 goals per game. Their 5-on-5 play has been horrendous with a 0.53 goals for to goals against ratio. The Oilers are another Canadian team that has been bailed out by their special teams units, ranking 4th on the power play, and managing to rebound to 7th on the penalty kill after that tough game against San Jose earlier in the year. They’re riding a four game losing streak, and this may be a potential trap game as the Wings face the defending cup champions Sunday afternoon.

 

Pick: V

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Panthers @ Capitals

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

PanthersFP

 

As horrible as the Panthers have been this year, it’s amazing that the Capitals have been worse. Before we go onto the Caps however, the Panthers clawed their way to a shootout victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia Thursday night. An impressive feat indeed as the Panthers are dead last in the league in 5-on-5 play (0.48 goals for to goals against). The Panthers have managed nine points in ten games to start the year despite surrendering 3.50 goals per game, I guess when they lose, they lose big. The Capitals on the other hand look atrocious this season. They rank 24th in the league with 2.27 goals for per game, while surrendering a league high 3.73 goals per game.

 

Their penalty kill is ranked 27th in the league, they have failed to pick up any points when scoring first or leading after one period of play. They are also the only team under .500 (at .333) when leading after two periods of play. At least the Ovechkin –Jay Beagle experiment is over, as AO recorded two points playing alongside Ribeiro and Wolski Thursday night. One last thing, Neuvirth has a goals against average of 2.99, Holtby’s is 4.52, Varlamov on an Avs team riddled with injuries that would fail to make the playoffs in the AHL 2.55. Just sayin’.

 

I’m going to take a gamble with Ovechkin’s success and hope he crushes the Panthers.

 

Pick: H+

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Ducks @ Blues

By the numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Entering this contest both teams have managed to stay perfect when scoring first and leading after the first period. The Ducks are scoring over 3.4 goals per game, and have a 5-on-5 ratio of 1.83 goals for to goals against, which is tops in the league.  Nice to see someone give Viktor Fasth a shot in the NHL as he’s only managed to start his NHL career with four wins, in knocking of Nashville, San Jose, and Minnesota, and posting a goals against average of 0.98. The best part is he’s only 6’ tall, so he actually has some skill in between the pipes as opposed to being 6’6 and just getting square to the puck and making blocks instead of saves.

 

The Blues have been struggling defensively, and it has in part to do with Jaroslav Halak going down with injury. They have lost three straight games surrendering 16 goals, which equates to more than half of their season’s total goals against. St. Louis is 5-0 when scoring first, but 1-4 when surrendering the opening goal of the hockey game. Combined with their 33.3% NHL leading power play, and starting the game on time is especially vital for the Blues heading into this one.

 

Pick: V

Thunder’s Pick: H


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Comments (1)add comment

Diffusion said:

Diffusion
... Thanks! I was looking forward to it!
February 09, 2013
Votes: +0
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